Archive for Book Awards

How to become an author – start writing!

Hi, Juliet here – star author for August. Writing that sends a shiver down my spine, because:

  • skip back five months ago – I wasn’t an author
  • skip back four years ago – I wasn’t an author, although I had started writing stories
  • skip back five years ago – I wasn’t an author, or a writer … although I *loved* to read (and I secretly, desperately wanted to write).

But I was too scared.

And distracted.

Plus I was convinced I wouldn’t be any good if I tried it anyway.

So it’s probably no surprise that my heroine Tilly and me share a similarity or two. Tilly starts off at the beginning of my first published book Night of the Perigee Moon petrified she’ll inherit some bizarre-o magical talent on her thirteenth birthday – she doesn’t want to turn into a weirdo.

Just to clarify, I’m not saying I’ve always been afraid of being overtaken by some strange, magical talent. Rather, what Tilly and I do have in common is getting distracted by the wrong things.

I’ve known for the longest time that I wanted to be a writer – since I was eight or nine – but I got distracted by the idea that this was impossible.

Writing stories was hard.

Hardly anyone gets published.

What if I didn’t have the imagination for it, anyway?

Still, whenever I sat down and read a book – Margaret Mahy in particular, whose writing I adore – I’d feel the whisper and pull of all those beautiful words. And this insistent tap on my shoulder. This voice saying I want to do that. I want to be that.

Just like Tilly, I had to work out that you’ve got to push past the distractions, and that when you do, you can transform yourself into anything you want to be. Even, it turns out, into a published author.

So, if you’re like me, and you’ve been feeling an itch or a tap on your shoulder to do or try something, but you’ve been ignoring it – try a Tilly on for size, and push past the distractions. Turn around and give that itch or nudge a good shove back.

It’s amazing where it can lead.

Talk more soon 🙂

 

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Join the Festival to celebrate the NZ Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

Have you ever wanted to come to the library in your pyjamas?  Next week you’ll get the chance to do just that when Christchurch City Libraries celebrates the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults Festival.  The Festival, which runs from 17-25 May, gives children, young adults and their families the chance to celebrate the finalist books, authors and illustrators at various events around the country.

Here in Christchurch we are running Books Before Bedtime Pyjama Parties at Papanui, Shirley and South Libraries, where children and their families can come to the library after dark and enjoy stories, craft activities and have fun with iPads.  For teens and adults we also have The Great NZ Children’s Book Quiz, a fun night where you and your friends can test your knowledge of the book awards and this year’s finalists.

One of my favourite events during Festival week is visiting local primary schools to read and promote the finalist books.  As well as encouraging children to read the wonderful finalist books, we also give away heaps of books and other goodies, including holographic bookmarks.  It’s tonnes of fun and the children always enjoy it.

We hope to see you at one of our events next week.  Check out the library events calendar for details of the Pyjama Parties and the Festival events calendar for details of the Book Quiz.

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An Interview with NZ Post Children’s Book Awards Finalist Melinda Szymanik

wintersdayThe NZ Post Children’s Book Awards finalists were announced this week, and I was thrilled to see Melinda Szymanik’s wonderful book A Winter’s Day in 1939 was on the list.

“Adam is 13 years old and lives with his family on a small farm in rural Poland. It is 1939 and the war has just broken out. Russians invade Poland and confiscate Adam’s family’s house and farm. They are sent to live with another family nearby, but are then moved on and put on a train for a Russian labour camp as refugees, prisoners of Russia.”

If you haven’t read this book, you should rush to your library or bookstore now! You’ll be gripped by Adam’s story, which is based on what actually happened to Melinda’s own father. So while you’re getting engrossed in what happens to Adam, you’ll be amazed to know that it’s all based on truth and the things described in the story really did occur!

I asked Melinda a few questions about her writing, and this is what she told me:

TANIA: Congratulations on being a finalist in this year’s NZ Post Book Awards! A Winter’s Day in 1939 was also named as a Storylines Notable Book this year. How are you feeling, and did you have any idea your book would be so widely acclaimed?

MELINDA: I am feeling beyond thrilled. And I am so happy that I have had this opportunity to introduce readers to a little known side of World War 2. You always hope people will like what you have written but this kind of response is like a dream come true.

TANIA: How did you research the book and how long did it take?

MELINDA: My father made about 20 pages worth of notes which I referred to continuously – these provided the main underlying structure of the story. Details were added by referring to books, information gathered off the internet or from my parents. I was keen to focus on a single experience and I think this makes ‘Adam’s’ story a more personal one for the reader to connect with. Research was an ongoing process throughout the writing and the book took me roughly 18 months to two years to write.

TANIA: A Winter’s Day in 1939 is based on your father’s real experiences during the war. How do your family feel about the book? Are they pleased his story is being told?

MELINDA: My family are very happy with how the book turned out. My mother was always telling me to write my father’s story. In the end I saw it as an opportunity to honour his experience and his bravery and they feel the same.

TANIA: Have you visited any of the places mentioned in the book?

MELINDA: No, but I would like to.

TANIA: What new books have you got coming out, and what are you working on now?

Melinda Szymanik

Melinda Szymanik

MELINDA: I have a new picture book coming out in July (The Song of Kauri, Scholastic) which is a little like a Maori myth and is about a Kauri tree. The illustrations by Dominique Ford are stunning. There is also a Maori version of this book. And I am currently working on several new stories at the moment – another historical story based on the Polish orphans who came to New Zealand in 1944 (it’s the 70 year anniversary of their arrival this year) for an intermediate aged audience, and a young adult fantasy story.

Thanks a lot, Melinda, for answering my questions, and good luck with the awards.

If you want to know more about Melinda and her wonderful books, check out her blog site by clicking here.

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LIANZA Children’s Book Awards winners

The LIANZA Children’s Book Awards ceremony was on in Wellington last night (Monday 5 August 2013).

Here is the list of winners. Good reads guaranteed!

Cover of Red RocksCover of The Nature of ash

LIANZA Junior Fiction Award – Esther Glen Medal. For the most distinguished contribution to literature for children aged 0-15. Red Rocks by Rachael King, (Random House New Zealand)

Pene Walsh, Awards Convenor and Gisborne Library Manager said:

although dealing with issues of a broken family, loneliness and bullying, this is an enjoyable and easy read, the story interwoven with myth, is written in a way that makes it entirely believable.

LIANZA Young Adult Fiction Award. For the distinguished contribution to literature for children and young adults aged 13 years and above. The Nature of Ash by Mandy Hager, (Random House New Zealand)

The strong and extremely well-developed characters, along with the dystopian theme, formed an action-packed story that in many ways reflects the current issues facing humankind today.

LIANZA Illustration Award – Russell Clark Award. For the most distinguished illustrations in a children’s book. A Great Cake by Tina Matthews, (Walker Books Australia)

Matthews’ wood cuts and stencils are expertly used in a Japanese-esque style and layers and layers of colour and texture build to create the final illustration … A visually inviting cover is the initial link from picture, to story, to words, and the explosion of imaginative synapses in between.

LIANZA Non Fiction Award – Elsie Locke Medal
For a work that is considered to be a distinguished contribution to non-fiction for young people.
At the Beach: Explore & Discover the New Zealand Seashore by Ned Barraud and Gillian Candler, (Craig Potton Publishing)

It is a hot-chocolate-table book for not only the child who loves facts but the one who love quirky stuff and stories. It is a book for browsing.

LIANZA Librarians’ Choice Award 2013. Awarded to the most popular finalist across all awards, as judged by professional librarians of LIANZA. My Brother’s War by David Hill, (Penguin NZ)

Te Kura Pounamu (te reo Māori). Awarded to the author of a work, written in Te Reo Māori, which makes a distinguished contribution to literature for children or young people. Ko Meru by Kyle Mewburn, translated by Ngaere Roberts, illustrated by Ali Teo and John O’Reilly (Scholastic)

Te Rangi Rangi Tangohau, Te Kura Pounamu Panel Convenor, says children will immediately be drawn into the story because of the simplicity of a lonely mule gazing into the sky dreaming of something new:

It is a humorous read with simple and colourful illustrations that will appeal to young readers. The friendly use of onomatopoeia works well with children and the descriptive and repetitive language will happily guide the reader to patu-patupatu, kiriti=karati, takahi-takatakahi through the story.

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A Writer’s Life

Hi all
I write children’s non-fiction books on a lifestyle block in North Auckland. For the next month, I’m going to share what I get up to, as a full-time writer.

I have two teenage children so as soon as they disappear on the bus I’m tapping away at the keyboard either on a freelance writing project (I’m currently doing a big writing project for Girl Guides) or writing my own books (a follow-on from New Zealand Hall of Fame, and a digitally enhanced book). I’ll also be promoting a new book of mine that is fresh out in the shops and libraries today so do look out for it. It is called ‘Running the Country‘ – all you ever wanted to know about what those politicians are doing at the Beehive, how you vote, your rights, along with caricatures by Malcolm Evans, a timeline that goes throughout the book on the political history of New Zealand and other interesting stuff.

Tomorrow, I head off to the New Zealand Family History Fair at the Vodafone Centre in Manukau to talk to Intermediate and High School students about my research process. Now, some of you might yawn at the thought of doing research but I love it. It’s like being a detective; finding clues and doggedly staying on the trail until I find what I want. I’ll be sharing how I’ve overcome research problems with them.

On Saturday, I’m speaking at the Bookrapt Conference in Tauranga along with children’s authors’ Lynley Dodd and Chris Gurney. I’m talking about why New Zealand children’s non-fiction books are important and how we could celebrate them.

On Monday, I fly to Wellington for the LIANZA awards. I’ll put on my best frock and catch up with other shortlisted authors and illustrators who have travelled from all over the country for the award ceremony. My book ‘Eruption! Discovering New Zealand Volcanoes’ has been nominated along with Te Papa’s book ‘100 Amazing Tales from Aotearoa’ and Ned Barraud and Gillian Candler’s book ‘At the Beach’.

On Wednesday, I’m visiting school children at Goodwood School in Cambridge. They’re studying sustainability so I’ll be sharing my environment books with them. I’m taking my puppets (I have 20 of them) for kids to act out just how vulnerable our native birds are (yes, you guessed it they’re native bird and predator puppets).

I’ll be home for a few days so I’ll catch up with you again then. I’ll tell you a few tales and share what I’m doing with the Storyline Festivals around the country. (Check out where they are on http://www.storylines.org.nz )

Ka kite ano

Maria Gill

www.mariagill.co.nz (see inside my books on this website)

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The 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards winners

The finalists in the 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards gathered in Christchurch on Monday night for the awards ceremony. The awards night is always themed and this year the organisers went for a ‘Witch in the Cherry Tree’ theme in honour of Margaret Mahy.  The book of the year was also renamed the ‘New Zealand Post Margaret Mahy Book of the Year’ this year.  I was  nervous myself, hoping that my favourites would take out the award, so I’m sure the authors and illustrators themselves were incredibly nervous.  Overall, I was pleased to see a couple of my favourites win awards, but I was disappointed that others missed out.  I think that Red Rocks and The Nature of Ash are amazing books and if I could give Rachael King and Mandy Hager an award I would.

Read below to find out who won each category, as well as the Honour Book and Children’s Choice Award.

Best Young Adult Fiction and New Zealand Post Margaret Mahy Book of the Year

Into the River by Ted Dawe

Best Non-Fiction

100 Amazing Tales from Aotearoa by Simon Morton & Riria Hotere

Best Junior Fiction

My Brother’s War by David Hill

Honour award, Junior Fiction

The Queen and the Nobody Boy: A Tale of Fontania series by Barbara Else

Best Picture Book

Mister Whistler by Margaret Mahy & Gavin Bishop

Best First Book

Reach by Hugh Brown

Children’s Choice

Melu by Kyle Mewburn, Ali Teo & John O’Reilly

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The 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards Finalists

The finalists in the 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards were announced this morning.  There is a great selection of books this year, by some of our best authors and illustrators.  I think that the picture book and junior fiction categories are particularly strong and the judges have got a huge job ahead of them.  I’m aiming to read all of the finalists before the week of the Festival this year so I’ll be sharing my thoughts on each book here.

Have you read any that you really love?

Picture Book

  • A Great Cake, written and illustrated by Tina Matthews
  • Melu, written by Kyle Mewburn and illustrated by Ali Teo and John O’Reilly
  • Mister Whistler, written by Margaret Mahy and illustrated by Gavin Bishop
  • Mr Bear Branches and the Cloud Conundrum, written and illustrated by Terri Rose Baynton
  • Remember that November, written by Jennifer Beck and illustrated by Lindy Fisher

Junior Fiction

  • The ACB with Honora Lee, written by Kate De Goldi and illustrated by Gregory O’Brien
  • The Queen and the Nobody Boy by Barbara Else
  • My Brother’s War by David Hill
  • Red Rocks by Rachael King
  • Uncle Trev and His Whistling Bull by Jack Lasenby

Young Adult Fiction

  • Earth Dragon, Fire Hare by Ken Catran
  • Into the River by Ted Dawe
  • The Nature of Ash by Mandy Hager
  • Reach by Hugh Brown
  • Snakes and Ladders by Mary-anne Scott

Non Fiction

  • 100 Amazing Tales from Aotearoa by Simon Morton and Riria Hotere
  • At the Beach: Explore and discover the New Zealand seashore by Ned Barraud and Gillian Chandler
  • Kiwi: the real story by Annemarie Florian and Heather Hunt
  • Taketakerau, The Millenium Tree by Marnie Anstis, Patricia Howitt and Kelly Spencer

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